University Community

Ohio University Eastern students Alyssa Betts and Michael Grob serve as junior fellows

In a testament to their commitment to education, OHIO students Alyssa Betts and Michael Grob were selected to serve as junior fellows for the OHIO Rural Teacher Fellowship (RTF) during the last academic year.

This program, in partnership with Building Bridges to Careers (BB2C), aims to develop rural education by integrating community partnerships and career awareness into experiential, place-based learning through the use of a learning system called community and career connected learning  (CCCL). As junior fellows, Betts and Grob worked alongside seasoned Rural Teacher Fellows to empower students and bridge the gap between classroom learning and real-world opportunities. Their appointment marked a milestone in their educational journey.

“Alyssa and Michael’s work was supported by an OHIO Undergraduate Experiential Learning Stewardship grant. Their contributions surpassed what we first imagined when we designed the junior fellowships and they are the reason we will offer this opportunity again to RHE (Regional Higher Education) students,” said Jacqueline Yahn, director of the RTF. “I especially want to credit Kristi Leonnard-Webber at BB2C who was instrumental in helping our rural teacher fellows form a vision for their collaborations with the junior fellows.” 

Alyssa Betts
Alyssa Betts

Nurturing agricultural education and inspiring students

Betts, a middle childhood education major, was paired with Danelle Dudzik, a fellow leading CCCL work at Barnesville Middle School. Dudzik's project focuses on developing and implementing an agriculture education class at the middle school level, creating a valuable opportunity for students to explore the world of agriculture.

"Participating in the Rural Teacher Fellowship means a lot to me because through this experience, I was able to give back to students in an area that I have been passionate about as a student and now as an alumnus,” Betts said about the experience.

As a junior fellow, Betts brought her firsthand experience as a student in agricultural education classes, serving as a resource for Dudzik. Together, they worked diligently to enhance the curriculum and provide practical, hands-on experiences for the students.

One notable achievement has been the participation of middle school agriculture students in career development events organized by the National FFA Organization. Betts’ role primarily involved teaching and coaching the students in general livestock judging, an event that students actively participated in.

Betts emphasized the value of incorporating community and career connected learning into the classroom, citing examples of community members coming in to speak to the students about their roles within the agriculture industry.

“Having Alyssa assist me through the fellowship program enhanced my program even more! Alyssa was able to provide my students information from her firsthand past experiences as an agricultural student herself.  Her passion shined through her lessons and she was able to help prepare my students and get them excited about their future in agriculture programs,” Dudzik said.

Michael Grob
Michael Grob

Unleashing creativity and collaboration through theater

Another exceptional junior fellow in the Ohio Rural Teacher Fellowship was Grob, who brought his enthusiasm for education and the arts to the program. Grob had the opportunity to work closely with Union Local English Teacher Dr. Katie O’Brien and the Towngate Theater in Wheeling on an exciting project that involved students in the creation of ideas for an upcoming play production.

“Michael served as a thinking partner for me, our community partners, and students. We attended multiple planning and debrief meetings with the community partners spanning November through May,” O’Brien said. “In the classroom, Michael bounced between student work groups, hearing their ideas and offering suggestions for further research. He also offered feedback on drafts of the pitch video assignment and its scoring rubric. When pitch videos were submitted, we watched the videos independently then met to discuss evaluation of each group. Michael's insight directly impacted the feedback and score each group received.”

The project empowered students to unleash their creativity as they developed concepts for sets, costumes, props, and sound. Through their collaborative efforts, some of their ideas made it onto the stage during the captivating performance of "All My Sons" by Arthur Miller. By engaging students in this hands-on project, Grob not only exposed them to the world of theater but also fostered their sense of ownership and pride in their accomplishments.

"To me, the fellowship means building relationships with community partners and exposing students to opportunities right in their backyard that they may not have known about before," Grob said.

The partnership between OHIO Rural Teacher Fellowship and Building Bridges to Careers

The success of the Ohio Rural Teacher Fellowship can be attributed to its fruitful partnership with Building Bridges to Careers (BB2C). BB2C plays a vital role in the program by matching junior fellows with rural teacher fellows who are leading CCCL initiatives in their respective school districts. This collaboration ensures the rural teacher fellow's CCCL project implementation receives essential support and guidance.

The collaboration is fostering the next generation of educators dedicated to empowering students and transforming rural communities. Through community and career connected learning, junior fellows like Betts and Grob are making tangible contributions, sharing their expertise, and enriching the experiences of students.

Betts and Grob serve as shining examples of the power of experiential learning. Their journey in the OHIO Rural Teacher Fellowship is a stepping stone towards a future where they become beacons of inspiration, and opening doors of opportunity that will shape their students' futures. 

June 15, 2023
Staff reports